Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Charles Darwin And Marriage

Charles Darwin is known for his theory of evolution which many Christians disagree with. While he was a religious liberal of his age (even though in the beginning he believed that the Scriptures were literally true), his marriage was pretty conventional, and exactly according to the prevailing morals of the Victorian age, something which modern progressives who appear to somewhat worship him, often fail to mention.

The girl who he married was his first cousin by the name of Emma Wedgwood (yes, both she and Charles were grandchildren of that Josiah Wedgwood, the one who founded the famous Wedgwood company) and at the time of their marriage she was nearly 31 years old. Now, I often read stories how women's uteruses all fall out at the age of 25 and then they become barren yet Emma Darwin went on to produce 10 (!) children (the last one at the age of 48.5), 7 of whom lived to adulthood.

It probably has something to do with the fact that she married as a virgin and we can presume that Charles did, too, since nothing is known about any affairs he could have had before he met her. Emma lived the life of a typical middle class Victorian housewife, taking care of her frequently ill husband, nursing and caring for her children, helping the parish poor and being ready to assist her husband if the need arises.

(In one of his letters, her husband entrusted her with publishing his works, if he died suddenly. I should add that before her marriage she was quite content to stay home, play the piano and take care of her handicapped mother and sister, though she did have a decent education and had traveled through Europe with her father. She also taught Sunday school to village children. Despite the famous Victorian oppression of all things female, she somehow practiced outdoor sports and became quite proficient at archery).

Darwin wasn't initially convinced whether he should marry at all (he was nearly a year younger than his wife, by the way) since he was afraid that marriage would hinder his career, restrict his freedom, reduce his financial circumstances and make him visit relatives. On the other hand, a married man would have a companion in his old age ("better than a dog anyhow":), children ("if it Please God" - somehow folks back then did understand that children were something you get, not something you take), and "a nice soft wife on a sofa with good fire and books and music."

In other words, even though he was top intellectual and stuff, his ideas about marriage included the traditional Victorian domestic bliss, not equal partnership with two breadwinners and shared housework (one of the reasons to marry for him was to have someone to take care of the house) and he basically acquired it, too; despite all the problems he and his wife had to live through, their marriage lasted 43 years. His wife survived him for 14 more years and died at the age of 88.Unlike many of our contemporary cultural icons, she wasn't remembered for her debauchery, but rather for "her patience and fortitude."


  1. Interesting. I agree, haven't heard many liberals refer to THIS Darwin...haha..

  2. Thanks:) The Darwins sound like a perfect Victorian family, don't they:)

  3. They actually are real look-a-likes, aren't they?

    It is how bearing many children seem to suite very well to some women. She looks younger than mr. Darwin in that picture I linked.

  4. Well, they were first cousins so it's hardly surprising.

    I, too, found interesting the fact that she went on to have 10 children and it didn't seem to harm her health a bit. Doing sports in her youth, having enough to eat and leading a calm, domestic life probably were some of the factors.